Posted in biology, education, literature

The psychology behind a good book

From LiveScience:

Any avid reader knows the power of a book to transport you into another world, be it the wizard realm of “Harry Potter” or the legal intrigue of the latest John Grisham.

Part of the reason we get lost in these imaginary worlds might be because our brains effectively simulate the events of the book in the same way they process events in the real world, a new study suggests.

The new study, detailed in the July 21 issue of the journal Psychological Science, builds on previous work that links the way our brains process images and written words to the way they process actions we perform ourselves.

Examining these links could shed light on why some people enjoy reading more than others and how our reading abilities change with time. Essentially, some people might paint a more vivid mental picture of written prose than others.

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Understanding how our brains process the events and changes while reading could help us understand some of the individual differences in reading, for example, why some people are sucked in by stories more than others.

While some readers can actually picture what they read, may not.

“There are readers, competent readers, who say ‘I have no pictures in my head when I read’,” says study author Jeffrey Zacks said.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.